Embracing Routine

#truelove #allowing #dating

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Embracing Routine
Are you, like me, one of those people who are physically allergic to routine? Does the thought of doing the same thing at the same time everyday make you want to poke your eyes out? Yes? Now let me ask you, how much calm and peace do you feel in your anti-routine life?

Many of my clients have an immense desire for a more balanced life, and very few have purposefully designed the life they currently live. Too many of you are treading water instead of swimming with the current, living in a reactive state instead of a place of creating opportunities, and overwhelmed with all of the decisions you have to make and then never quite get what you want.

That being said, even those of us who absolutely hate routine still have some routine in our lives because it’s human nature. You probably routinely brush your teeth in a particular pattern, you probably take the same route on your drive home from work, and you probably routinely put on your shoes starting with the same foot. The reason is that the human brain is actually wired for routine. Neuroplasticity shows us that we can create new pathways, but even the new ones are still defined pathways.

Take advantage of your nature and create less stress with these 5 decision-free lifestyle tips:

1. Schedules are good: Part of scheduling an activity is actually honoring and respecting it as a priority. Just like you would write down a medical or dental appointment and not skip it because a friend called for a coffee date, scheduling a regular date night with your spouse, a regular run, or a yoga class is honoring your relationship and your self-care.

2. Meal plans are yummy: They save you money by only purchasing the foods you intend to prepare, and planning your meals is a healthy alternative to relying on overly processed convenience foods. As a family, spend one hour a week with the grocery flyers and your cookbooks to plan what you will eat that coming week.

3. Healthy boundaries are vital: Define your relationships with friends, co-workers, employer or clients. If you are clear about what they expect from you and you from them then you will have removed stressful guesswork and potential misunderstandings. Your boss clearly expects you to show up for work 40 hours a week and you clearly expect a paycheck. What are the clear expectations with your mother-in-law or your best buddy?

4. Budgets are blissful: Hear me out… actually knowing how much money you have and spending within that amount is one of the most stress relieving things you can do. Establish a weekly routine to reconcile your actual spending with your budget, because this practice will put you in control of your money and your choices.

5. Don’t forget the kids: Children thrive on routine. If they know what is coming next, they are more likely to go along with the plan than to throw a tantrum over not being in charge. And I am sure I don’t need to tell you how great it is to deal with a calm child. And, bedtime routines are a must at any age.

Be careful. Before you know it, you will actually be on top of your laundry and not mistaking the clean and dirty piles as you get dressed in the dark.

I want to hear from you. Where have you incorporated routine in your life? How has it helped? Drop me a line at my website or comment below and keep the stress relief conversation going.

Counteract Anxiety With Curiosity
Anxiety naturally arises when entering the new, unknown, or the uncertain. Most often, we try to manage the anxiety — perhaps by giving ourselves a pep talk or practicing deep breathing. There is a better, easier way, though. Instead of trying to quell anxiety directly by “managing” it, focus instead on curiosity. Cultivating this attitude counteracts anxiety the moment it arises.

Positive Psychology researcher Todd Kashdan, Ph.D., author of Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life, describes how we can change our response to the unknown — starting with a single decision to remain in situations and explore them, even when it might make us feel anxious or uncomfortable. This is also the approach that Harold took.

Harold and the Purple Crayon was my favorite book as a girl, and one I read to my children often when they were younger. It’s a classic — published almost 60 years ago about a curious 4-year-old boy named Harold who draws his world into existence with his purple crayon. He wants to walk with the moon, so he draws the moon and a path to it. He draws a monster to protect the apple tree and becomes afraid. A shaking hand draws water that quickly covers his head. He gets lost and draws many windows before he finds his own bedroom window, as he remembers the window always frames the moon, drawing his room right where he is.

He doesn’t know where he’s going, what he will encounter, or whom he will meet along the way. One thing he does have is his trusty purple crayon to draw out new possibilities.

Like Harold, Kashdan teaches that we can consciously make a decision to be curious, and that focus lessens our sense of anxiety. We do, in effect, hold our own purple crayon and can decide to draw novel distinctions. By focusing on curiosity versus trying to manage anxiety, we can generate more enjoyable, interesting, and meaningful social interactions. Rather than trying to stop anxiety, which is very hard if not impossible, we can instead direct our focus to being actively engaged, interested, and curious.

This curious mindset is what researcher Carol Dweck calls a growth mindset — a state of mind that allows us to see new possibilities. It is also how Harvard Professor Ellen Langer defines mindfulness. Rather than meditative mindfulness, Langer uses mindfulness to describe our ability to see things anew, drawing novel distinctions in everyday life just like Harold uses his crayon to draw new realities.

Here are some questions and sentence stems to build curiosity in an uncomfortable or uncertain situation:

I wonder what would happen if…
How am I physically standing, sitting, or moving right now?
The thing I find interesting now is…
Who looks interesting to talk to?
Who is at ease in this situation and what can I learn from them?
I imagine this experience will be helpful by…
Right now, I’m noticing many new things, including…
I’m looking forward to understanding…

Ultimately, life is one big unknown. In every moment, we have no idea what will happen next. Boredom comes when we fail to see the new in everything — even the mundane and ordinary. There is, then, no reason to wait for anxiety to actively practice curiosity. When someone asks you “What’s new?” really notice what’s new in this never-to-be-repeated moment, instead of flippantly answering, “Not much.”

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